Happy Holidays! Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.
The song for Day 5 of the 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS is “Winter Wonderland” by Eurythmics, from one of my all-time favorite Xmas albums, 1987’s A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS, which came about from an idea of super-producer Jimmy Iovine.
Long before Jimmy Iovine was the co-founder of Interscope Records and Beats Electronic (with Dr. Dre), Jimmy was an engineer on such classic albums like Bruce Springsteen’s BORN TO RUN, DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN and THE RIVER, Meat Loaf’s BAT OUT OF HELL and John Lennon’ WALLS AND BRIDGES.
Before 1987, Jimmy Iovine produced or co-produced such memorable albums Patti Smith’s EASTER, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers’ DAMN THE TORPEDOES, Dire Straits’ MAKING MOVIES, BELLA DONNA by Stevie Nicks, ONCE UPON A TIME by Simple Minds and The Pretenders’ GET CLOSE. He also supervised the music for the 1984 John Hughes classic, SIXTEEN CANDLES, and in 1988, he produced U2’s excellent double-album soundtrack to their rockumentary, RATTLE AND HUM, and supervised the music for the Bill Murray holiday film, SCROOGED.
For the first A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS album in 1987, Jimmy Iovine recruited many of the recording artists he worked with, like Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Pretenders and Stevie Nicks, along with Eurythmics, John Mellencamp, Sting, Run-D.M.C., Madonna, Bryan Adams, Alison Moyet and more – 15 songs in all.
In the wake of Band Aid, Live Aid, Farm Aid and “We Are The World,” Jimmy Iovine wanted to put together a Christmas album as a memorial to his dad, who passed away in 1985.
The idea for A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS to benefit Special Olympics was idea of Jimmy Iovine’s wife, Vicki (herself a volunteer for Special Olympics), and that’s where the “special” in A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS is inspired from. Mr. and Mrs. Iovine got some help organizing the album from extended Kennedy family member Bobby Shriver, and the founders of A&M Records, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss.
Since the original 1987 A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS album, there have been nine other albums released in the series, through 2013. And since 1987, the series has raised over $100 million dollars for Special Olympics. Since 1991, A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS ranks as the 19th best-selling holiday album here in America, and has sold over four million copies since its release.
The cover art for the albums was designed by pop and graffiti artist, Keith Haring, and the untitled image of a mother and child was chosen by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1987 as the cover of the first A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS album. Keith Haring sadly passed away in early 1990, but that image has become synonymous with the album series, and also with the mission of the Special Olympics.
This wonderful version of “Winter Wonderland” by Eurythmics has been a longtime holiday favorite of mine, and it has made it onto most (if not all) of the playlists for my Annual Holiday Show. Many versions of “Winter Wonderland” have been recorded since it was written in 1934, from Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley to Ozzy Osbourne, but this version truly stands out among the best.
To learn more about Special Olympics and the mission of A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS, go to averyspecialchristmas.org.